Financial protection: the key to your peace of mind

For most of us, a great life means having a balance between things like our work, money, family and passions.

Sign that says peace of mindI don’t really want to ask this question, but have you ever seriously thought about what would happen if any of those stopped?

If you or your partner couldn’t work, if one of you died, if you were so unwell you couldn’t do the things you love any more?

It’s a sobering thought.

We can’t stop disasters happening, but we can make sure we are as ready and protected as possible.

We may be strong women. But even the strongest of people need armour.

Here are my top four tips for building up your armour:

Take out life insurance

What would happen if either you or your partner died? Do you know if your pension funds will pay out to each other? You might have personal life cover, and you might also have life cover through an employer (usually called Death In Service cover).

Make a list of how much it would pay out. Would that be enough? If it isn’t, take advice about getting the cover you need. It’s normally not expensive.

Remember that if you or your partner are primarily looking after the home and children that may not pay a salary, but it would still cost money to replace with a housekeeper, a nanny or a cleaner.

Make a will

Simply put, if you don’t have a will, you’ve got no way of controlling where your money and personal treasures go after you die. So if you want a specific piece of jewellery to go to someone, if you want to set out who will care for your children, put it in a will.

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It’s true that when you read wills they can be daunting and difficult to understand. Most good lawyers will tell you what it means in plain English. If yours doesn’t, find one that does.

And don’t even think about saving a few quid by doing it yourself – it’s just not worth it.

Have an emergency pot 

Whether you can do this right now, or if it’s something you need to work on over a period of time, build up an emergency savings account. A pot of money that you and your partner can both get to quickly.

If you both work, I normally suggest at least six months’ worth of your normal expenses. That means if something unexpected happened, you know you would be able to keep going for at least six months while you get on your feet again.

Take out health insurance

It’s much more likely that we will have to stop work due to illness, rather than stepping under a bus. But we aren’t good at insuring ourselves against that.

You or your partner might have health insurance through your employment. It’s often called ‘Permanent health insurance’ or ‘Income protection insurance’. Another type of policy is ‘Critical Illness insurance’.

Find out what you’ve got and, in particular, find out when it will start paying you. Some insurance pays out after a couple of weeks, some after a year. Also find out how long your employer will pay you for if you can’t work. Not knowing how long you’ll have to wait can be a serious gap in your armour.

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Remember that if your partner is unwell, it won’t just have an impact on the money they bring in, it can seriously affect your income too. You might need to take time off work to care for them, or even stop working altogether.

On top of that, there could be costs of caring for them – healthcare, medication and even adjustments to your home.

Thinking about these things doesn’t mean you’re more likely to be ill, or worse. It’s just part of preparing for what life throws at us. We are women, we wear armour.

Please bear in mind that nothing in this article is a personal recommendation – what’s right for some people will not be right for others. Always take independent advice.

About Rebecca Aldridge

I’m the Managing Director of Balance: Wealth Planning – named because I know that every decision in life is about finding the right balance. I’m a qualified financial planner and work with people to help them organise their finances and meet their goals. I love learning and adopting new ideas, and you’ll often find me following up interesting links on Twitter or reading the latest books on business or psychology.